Just Once - Page 38

As they took a few steps away, Caleb glanced around and wryly noted that with Art and Annika now standing like joined statues, he and his niece were the only people within sight who seemed capable of movement. Judging by what his brother had said, this wasn't going to last too much longer, so Caleb decided to take his own advantage of the time. “So your name is Gwen, huh?” he asked his niece.

She looked at him with all the disdain a child can muster. “You know it is!”

Caleb chuckled. “I'm going somewhere with this, trust me,” he said with a grin. “Your name is Gwen . . . as in short for Guinevere. Do you know why that's funny?”

“There's nothing funny about my name!” Gwen protested.

“Suit yourself, champ,” Caleb said as he playfully tousled her hair. “Sounds like we need a subject change, so why don't we try . . . why didn't you and your Daddy fix your Mommy's arm while you two were still in god mode?”

“Healing someone can be hard unless you're both being the same person,” Gwen told him in a voice far too serious for her young age. “Even harder than just being me when Mommy or Daddy is holding me, which is why Mommy and me practice every day . . . but that's not the real reason.” She leaned in closer to Caleb's ear as if she were going to tell him a secret. “The real reason is Daddy wanted to hold Mommy's hand again,” Gwen said in a childish stage whisper that would have been heard by every nearby ear had anyone but Caleb been capable of listening.

Caleb nearly choked on his laughter. “Yeah . . . that sounds like your daddy to me,” he admitted, then his nascent avuncular instincts surprised him by suddenly kicking into overdrive. “You had us all scared out of our wits, you know!” he chided even as he wondered who was saying something like that and why were they using his voice? “You shouldn't have run from your mother like that!”

“But I didn't!” Gwen protested.

“Don't you lie to me, young lady!” Caleb snapped, now really wondering who was talking. “Because I know what a lie sounds like!” Then Caleb paused, tilted his head in consideration for a moment, then glanced down at Gwen. “So why doesn't that sound like a lie?” he asked her.

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